“I started at the front desk at SEAKR in July 2016,” said Laura Farlett. “A few months later, I applied for a Human Resources Assistant position that opened up. I have been here full time ever since.”
Rewind 22 years, Laura was 21 years old and working as an accountant at Sea World in Orlando, Florida. However, ever since Laura was a little girl she wanted to travel and see the world, so she left home and joined the U.S. Navy.
“I got to travel all over the world. I was originally stationed in San Diego; my first ship was the USS Kinkaid DD 965. Later, I was stationed at the Royal Air Force base in St. Mawgan, Cornwall, England for three years. I started out as an enlisted sailor, but my job title was Sonar Technician Surface (STG), which means I operated and maintained the equipment that tracked submarines. After twenty years, I retired as a Chief Petty Officer.”
By 2009, Laura was married with two boys while stationed in Great Lakes, Illinois. As a Recruit Division Commander she led eight divisions, 88 civilians per division. Laura was not only a mom raising two boys, while her husband was deployed in Iraq, but also transforming 704 civilians into sailors during their eight weeks of training in Navy Bootcamp.
“Imagine being in a room with 88 people, all different walks of life and experiences, who don’t know each other and you are in charge of training them,” Laura challenged. “I spent eight weeks molding them, teaching them how to wear their uniform and how to act like a sailor, giving them resources they never knew they had available to them. I was creating the future of the Navy. It was my favorite job as well as the most rewarding personally and professionally.”
In 2013, Laura reached one of her goals and was promoted to Chief Petty Officer. Unfortunately, during the same time, she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer.
“When I was promoted to chief I went through a six week initiation process and it’s stressful beyond belief; but I thought God had a sense of humor. Ultimately my career goal of being a chief had come but along with it, my breast cancer diagnosis. By the time I was selected for chief on August 1, 2013, I had three surgeries, one of which was a double mastectomy. I started chemo two weeks after my selection. I’m sure I received some leniency because of what I was going through, but I was still there every day, as long as chemo didn’t get in the way. I was scared. I started to realize that my career goals shouldn’t be my main focus. My family became a bigger component in my life. This led to my decision to go ahead and retire at 20 years of service because I had young boys who were three and five when I got diagnosed. It was hard because I loved the Navy, I loved my job, and I loved the aspect of what we do. But when I thought about my children not having their mother and that life’s too short and another day is never guaranteed, I realized I didn’t want to do another deployment not knowing what the future is going to hold. I want to make everyday a day with purpose.”
After 20 years of service, Laura retired from the U.S. Navy and began adjusting to civilian life.
“I realized I had to set myself up for success in civilian life so I decided to go back to school. While on active duty I took classes and got my Associate’s degree in Electronics. Before I retired I earned my certificate in Human Resources Management. But the Veteran’s Administration (VA) benefits to go back to school are too good, not taking advantage would be a waste. I am now studying Business Administration at the Colorado Christian University in Lakewood. I feel that business administration is a good foundation. Just having a degree shows that you are teachable.”
As a mother, wife, and college student, Laura certainly has a full plate. Thankfully, she has an amazing support system that helps her achieve her goals, her family.
“There are days when I just don’t want to get out of bed. But I put one shoe on after the other and get marching. The kids know when I get home from a day of work, I still have homework I need to do and they have homework they need to do so we do it together. My husband, Paul, decided to retire as well and just started his own business and this allows for a flexible schedule. He is able to help with the kids and home life. I don’t think I could do what I do without his help. We make a great team.”
After 20 years serving in the U.S. Navy, Laura is finally settling down.
“As a Florida girl I love Colorado. The weather is beautiful. I love driving to work and seeing the snowcapped mountains, the seasons change, and wildlife roaming without any care of the hustle and bustle of us humans. We are finally settling down, we bought a house in June of this year, and we are building the life we always talked about and I couldn’t be happier. We are truly blessed beyond measure.”